Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, today 5th October, announced a range of flagship events taking place on November 16th as part of Ireland’s inaugural ‘Digital First’ Day. The nationwide initiative, driven by a new collaboration, Digital Ireland Network (www.digital-ireland.ie) was devised to highlight the potential of digital growth and social enterprise in attracting economic and social development in rural areas and to help tackle the urban/rural divide.
On November 16th, members of Ireland’s Connected Hubs network will host a programme of seminars, meetups and workshops around the theme of the benefits of digital growth to help communities to attract investment, remote workers, home buyers and visitors to their area, thus advancing sustainable regional development and quality of life. The first tranche of events was revealed today. Members of the public can register here to be notified of when the full event listing is available.
Highlights include the official launch of the new Digital Ireland Network in Ennis, County Clare with an event entitled “Reimagining Rural Ireland Through Digital”, which will feature keynote speakers on digitalisation and rural regeneration through hubs, digitalisation and the green agenda. Since its designation as Ireland’s first “Information Age Town” in the 90’s Ennis has a history of driving digital and it is the centre point for the DigiClare network of 11 hubs across the county. Reflecting its mission to promote the growth of indigenous companies, Kerry’s RDI Hub will stage ‘Destination Growth – from local to global through the resources on your doorstep’, an event which will bring together all the stakeholders in the regions enterprise support ecosystem in an information day format.
Moving up the coast ‘Digital First’ Day will see the first ever event held in the brand new Innovate Limerick Engine Collaboration Centre. Entitled ‘Champions of Collaboration’ the event will reflect the new centres mission of encouraging collaboration between all sizes of companies, in particular through digital growth, to reach new customers and improve products or services. The event will reflect Innovate Limerick’s mission of working with the 19 ENGINE Hubs throughout the midwest and north Kerry to deepen the connection between the urban and the rural, the national and the international.
Throughout the Gaeltacht regions the opportunities that digital growth offers will be highlighted in “Greasán Gteic ag cumasú fás digiteach” (Gteic Network enabling digital growth), a hybrid event being organised by Údarás na Gaeltachta and the gteic digital hub network. This event will outline the resources provided to the Gaeltacht regions by the 25 digital hubs in the gteic network.
Donegal workers, local businesses and social enterprises are invited to “Unleash Your Digital Creativity”. Hosted by CoWork Plus Carndonagh and Spraoi’s Digital Creative Lab the event will showcase the digital resources available in Carndonagh, Inishowen including digitally manufactured products, vlogging and podcasting equipment. Moving inland The Hive’s mission of supporting small business will be advanced through an event with Leitrim’s digital champions entitled ‘Learn from Leitrim’s Leading Practitioners of Digital Growth’.
Founding members of Digital Ireland Network will also stage events in support of the initiative. DigitalHQ clg will hold a seminar sharing insights on how they partnered with Dun Laoghaire Tidy Towns to map the built environment of the town to create Ireland’s first ‘Placemaking Audit’. An Cosán, Ireland’s largest provider of community education, will run seminars on how to join their ‘Digital Champion’ initiative while .IE, the national registry for .ie domain names, will run a panel discussion where businesses will talk about their digital journey.
Part funded through the Department of Rural & Community Development ARISE fund, Heather Humphreys, Minister for Social Protection and Minister for Rural and Community Development said:
“At the 13th OECD Rural Development Conference in Cavan last week I spoke about the importance of seizing the opportunities of digitalisation to support communities to become resilient so we can face the challenges together and build on the opportunities. ‘Digital First’ Day is a resource for all communities to get involved through their local Connected Hub. My ambition when it comes to Remote Working has always been simple – I want to light Ireland up with a large network of these state-of-the-art remote working facilities that reach all four corners of the country. It’s about taking old buildings – the likes of former factories, convents, garda stations and even old train stations – and giving them a new lease of life, repurposing them as remote working and enterprise facilities. So I am encouraging as many hubs as possible to sign up to ‘Digital First’ Day on November 16th.
Separately, Microsoft Ireland Hackathon teams set about creating innovative ways to unlock staff volunteerism to lend their skills to Connected Hubs that will be delivering events on Digital First Day. It is anticipated that 50+ staff from Microsoft Ireland will give of their time to help make a success of this national event.
Stephen Carolan, Enterprise Hubs Project Manager at Connected Hubs commented: “We believe that the hub network across the country can act as a catalyst for communities to bring about the social change at a scale envisioned in ‘Our Rural Future’. With almost 300 hubs now on board the platform and at least 400 by 2024, these hubs are perfectly positioned to drive digital growth, attracting economic and social development in communities in every part of Ireland. The Connected Hubs network is hosting a programme of seminars, meetups and workshops, highlighting the role of our hub managers in the delivery of public and private services that can benefit every community.”
Project lead for ‘Digital First’ Day Eoin Costello, DigitalHQ clg, said: “The enthusiasm amongst the event hosts is hugely motivating. Hubs across the country are delighted to have the opportunity to throw their doors open to the public and show their localities the resources available on their doorstep to help leverage effective ways to work and live in the 21st century.”
This initiative is being driven and promoted by the newly formed Digital Ireland Network, a network dedicated to ‘Reimagining Rural Ireland’. The founding organisations include Connected Hubs, DigitalHQ, the national domain registry .IE, National Broadband Ireland, the Heritage Council’s CTCHC Programme, DLR County Council, An Cosán, Údarás na Gaeltachta, the Western Development Commission and Grow Remote.